Airedales hand Clarksville first loss in four starts at Charles B. Dyer Arena.
Senior Night took on a whole new meaning for Alma’s Chris Walters on Friday, Feb. 16.
The 6-foot-10 backup earned his first career start in the Airedales’ 64-26 win over Clarksville Panthers.
Walters, who had but two career baskets prior to Friday’s start, brought the crowd to its feet with a first quarter basket.
His teammates were pretty pumped as well.
“It was awesome,” senior Brayden Johnson said. “Chris comes to work every day, giving a 110 percent. He pushes Kade (Wood) hard; I think Kade isn’t used to going up against 6-foot-10 guys, so I think it makes Kade better. It was the best energy I’ve had all year.”
“All the hard work he’s put in since the seventh grade, he hasn’t gotten a whole lot of playing time, but he’s at every practice, he’s in every drill we do,” said coach Stan Flenor. “We thought it was only necessary for him to start his last senior home game.”
Alma (17-8) led from start to finish. The Airedales faced Maumelle on Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. in the first round of the District 5A-West Tournament.
A win clinches a berth in the state tournament.
Clarksville played Greenbrier on Monday in its 5A-West district tournament opener.
Jensen and Johnson finished with 14 points apiece to pace Alma, and Christian Stahler and the aforementioned Wood had 10 and eight points respectively.
Flenor reinserted Walters into the game in the fourth quarter. He earned another loud ovation with an emphatic block.
“I’ve been dreaming of this moment since the ninth grade,” Walters said. “I’ve been wanting to play for this team ever since I joined. These are guys I’ve looked up to ever since I started playing with them in the sixth grade.”
“Chris is in all phases of our program,” Flenor said. “It’s a chance to reward somebody whose done that. He’s come full circle for us, and we’re very proud of him.”
Bob Hurley led the Panthers with a team-high nine points. For Clarksville, it marked the first time coach Tony Davis’ squad had lost a game at Charles B. Dyer Arena. Previously, the Panthers were 3-0 on Alma’s home floor.
Clarksville 55, Alma 41
Emmaline Rieder scored nine of her 15 points in the third quarter Friday to power Clarksville to a 55-41 win over the Alma Airedalettes in the regular season finale for both teams.
The Panthers (14-14) led wire-to-wire.
Clarksville led 7-0 at the start of the game, but Alma’s Hillarie Mata drained a 3-pointer to pull the Airedalettes to within 9-7. Alma’s deficit was four (17-13) after Zoie McGhee’s 3-pointer with 6:39 left in the half.
But the Panthers pushed the lead to 23-15 at the half, and baskets by Rieder, Maegan Payne and Alexie Tibbs extended the lead to 31-16.
Senior Sierra Bailey led Alma (8-19) with a game-high 16 points in her final home game.